Leaky gut is a condition that creates gaps/openings in the lining of the intestines. The intestines have an essential role in protecting the body from harmful bacteria and toxins.
The gastrointestinal or GI tract is a tube of connected organs. They include:
- Small and large intestines
Enzymes in the stomach and small intestine digest and break down nutrients from the foods and drinks that the body uses for energy, growth, and repair. There are openings in the walls that allow water and nutrients to pass into the bloodstream while the toxic/harmful substances are kept inside. With a leaky gut, the openings begin to widen and allow food particles, bacteria, and toxins to enter directly into the blood.
There is also a wide array of bacteria known as gut microbiota. These bacteria help with digestion, protect the walls, and support immune function. Research has found that imbalances in the gut microbiota can trigger an immune system response. The response causes inflammation and a higher probability of intestinal permeability or IP. Intestinal permeability looks at the ease of substances leaking out of the intestines and into the blood.
Symptoms of leaky gut can include:
- Nutrition issues
- Poor immune system
- Brain fog
- Memory loss
- Skin rashes
Various risk factors can disrupt the gut microbiota and contribute. Examples include:
- Unhealthy diet
- Autoimmune disorders
Healing a leaky gut involves making dietary adjustments and removing the foods that the body sees as toxic. Lifestyle changes and support for a healthy gut:
- Regular exercise
- Proper sleep
- Reduce stress
- Avoid the use of antibiotics
- Quit smoking
- Adding probiotics to boost the good gut bacteria
- Eating foods rich in prebiotic fiber
- Avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners
Healthcare professionals realize that leaky gut syndrome is interconnected to many other chronic health conditions. This is an issue that can be tested for and corrected, aiding professionals to catch diseases early and slow the progression.